Summary: If we simplify our relationships down to just a few things what would they be? In this series we take a look a four simply ways to work on our relationships together and also in our community. This sermon focuses on being a good listener.

A study was done by the US Census Bureau which stated that the USA has the highest: divorce rate, percentage of single parent families, teen pregnancies, teen abortions and homicide rate IN THE WORLD!

The American family is in a lot of pain. People just up the street are in a lot of pain. Because of sin, every one of us is broken, everyone one of us dysfunctional. But that wasn’t the way God intended for it be when He created us.

God created us for community, to be simply relational with Him and with others. The Bible says that the first man and woman were “naked and unashamed.” They could connect at a level intimacy many of us will never experience.

In your notes you will notice a group of hearts that illustrate this connection. Because nothing was hidden man and woman were able to love God and each other in an atmosphere of complete trust. They were connected.

But sin caused the man and woman to hide from God and from each other and from themselves. And still today, people are hungry for intimacy, connection, belonging but are plagued with fear and shame. Why? Because we’ve lost the innocence and trust we once had with God. And whether we know it or not, we walk around relationally guarded, protecting, and hiding our deepest and truest thoughts and feelings from God, others and ourselves.

The next illustration shows how everything relationally is turned upside-down because of sin. The Open Area is small, there isn’t so much trust, but instead and beneath we have a Guarded Area then deeper a Hidden Area and even deeper an Unknown Area. Because we are broken and in pain, we spend much of time defending ourselves.

Where there are hidden hurts, we defend with anger. We withdraw when we have fears in our relationships and hide. We cover over our failures with humor, our weaknesses with addictions, and our need for love by staying away in our workaholism.

As I said, the American family is in a lot of pain. Every one of us is broken. We as the church of Jesus Christ have the greatest news ever given! As we reach out to others of our community in their pain; as we seek to become connected and bring connective chances to them it will require that we listen!

We have been talking about a “love blitz” on our community—going out to them, meeting them on their own playing field and talking to them, inviting them, interesting them in God, Jesus, and His family. We are in the midst of this plan looking ahead for a vision to reach new people for Christ! This will be a test of how willing we are to do whatever it takes to reach lost people for Christ! And we must be ready, willing and able to listen!

Jan was on staff with Athletes in Action. After attending a conference where the importance of listening to unsaved people was stressed, Jan and others were relaxing in the hotel whirlpool. Two adolescent girls joined them in the tub. One of the teens, named Brittany, began passionately telling her friend about an upcoming Wiccan gathering she was planning to attend. (btw, Wicca is religion which worships God and Goddess, finds spirituality in all of creation, believes the practice of magic and spells and seek to contact the spiritual world through any means.)

Jan says: Normally we would have tried to counter the girl’s ideas, but we decided to listen instead. I said something simple like, "Wow, you really sound excited about this!" This was all the encouragement she needed to launch into a five-minute explanation of why she was so attracted to neo-pagan rituals. The bottom line was that she’d had a really traumatic time in high school and the Wiccas accepted her. She said, "I’ve gone through so much crap just trying to make it through high school that I’ll probably be in therapy for the rest of my life!"

[Jan] tried to mirror back what she said with, "It’s hard for you to even imagine a future where you’d be free from all of the pain you’ve gone through." Jan said, “What came next completely floored me. With a film of tears starting to form in her eyes and with complete sincerity in her voice, she said, "Sometimes I wish I could be born all over again. I’d really like to start over from scratch." After a long pause, my friend asked if she would really like to be born again. "Yes, I really would," she said.

Here is a pattern then: PAIN > CONNECTION > HEALING > TRUTH > LISTEN

Simply being relational means simply being a listener...a good listener first and foremost.

My little girl has sat on my lap and when she has wanted to talk to me and doesn’t think I am listening to her, she has grabbed my face with her hands and turned it towards hers and then puts her face in my face and says, “Daddy, listen to me!” That is why today’s sermon is titled, “Give Them Your Face.”

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